So, MiddleAgedDM put up a great, introspective post about getting older as a gamer. As someone who has been gaming since the early 80s myself… well, I understand and I really enjoyed the read.
But it brought something to mind for me. You know, I still have a ton of my Endless Quest books. I have a ton of Choose Your Own Adventures, and Twist-a-Plots, and the Indiana Jones licensed ones, and Intergalactic Spy, and… well, you get the idea. And I loved those books. To be honest, Rose Estes probably shaped my perception of D&D (and fantasy in general) as much as Robert E. Howard, Guy Gavriel Kay, Tolkien, Eddings, and Beagle. (Well, maybe not as much as Beagle…).
Can I even begin to count the number of times I read Pillars of Pentagarn? Return to Brookmere is actually a book I still pull of the shelf and flip through when I need inspiration. And the art… oh, the art in those books. That was… That IS still what I think of as D&D when anyone says, “Dungeons and Dragons.” And beyond the Endless Quest series… I can’t really tell you how many car trips to grandparents’ houses were spent playing through Warlock of Firetop Mountain and Trial of Champions. And when my parents divorced and I moved to a small little place far from my original gaming friends, it was four years before I found a gaming group again… I gamed a lot on my own at 11 and 12 years old.
But here’s the real question in all this… I read a lot about needing to get new blood in the hobby, getting kids involved. I read all the hoopla about how 4E was “the fantasy the younger generation wanted.” That’s great, and I love gaming, and I’ve loved D&D since I was 8 years old. But as much as I’ve loved gaming all these years, those books were what I mostly had for a long time. So what do we have now? What’s the Endless Quest equivalent for the modern age? The thing is – Wizards of the Coast talks about wanting to bring kids into gaming – so give them gateways. They don’t have to start with D&D to play D&D. But what do they have? I realized today, I genuinely don’t know.